Conference: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Imagination in Informal STEM Environments

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 to Thursday, September 30, 2021
Resource Type:
Project Descriptions | Projects
Environment Type: 
Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Conferences
Museum/ISE Professionals | Learning Researchers
Education and learning science | General STEM
Museum of Science, Boston

This project will consider how research on imaginative thinking, and perspectives on the role of imagination in STEM practice and STEM education, can be systematically applied to support STEM learning in museum contexts. Common conceptions of science as non-imaginative are persistent, but scholarship across disciplines suggests critical roles for imagination, both in the practice of STEM and in shaping learners' perceptions of themselves as part of STEM. Further, evidence from the fields of neuroscience, psychology, child development and education suggests ways that imagination can be fostered and improved, and that these understandings could be applied to the design of museum experiences in order to improve STEM outcomes. 

The activities of this project, led by the Museum of Science, Boston, both synthesize and generate knowledge at the intersections of imagination, STEM, and education practice in ways that are actionable for museum professionals. Activities include: a literature review, a document review, and a survey of ISE professionals; an in-person convening of STEM professionals (researchers, practitioners, educators and others); and the development and dissemination of products designed to inform future project development. The goals of the project are to: 1) prompt conversations about imaginative thinking across the Informal Science Education (ISE) field, and between ISE and other fields; 2) identify priority areas for research and development that can advance the field's understandings at the intersections of imagination, STEM, and learning; and 3) catalyze future research and development efforts that can advance the field. The intent is for the integration scholarship on imagination, STEM, and learning within museums' research and development efforts to lead to projects that describe, test, and refine theoretical frameworks and concrete strategies for supporting imaginative thinking among public audiences through exhibitions, programs, and other designed experiences.

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which supports innovative research, approaches, and resources for use in a variety of learning settings.

Funding Program: 
Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 
Funding Amount: 

Team Members

Becki KiplingPrincipal Investigator
Christine ReichChristine ReichCo-Principal Investigator
Sarah MaySarah MayCo-Principal Investigator

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